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Raising Computers to Be Good Scientists

University of Arizona School of Information associate professor Clayton Morrison in his robotics lab.

A project funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is working to develop a computer that can read scientific paper, derive biochemical pathway data, and plug it all in to interactive models.

Credit: Emily Litvack/UANews

With funding from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, University of Arizona (UA) professor Clayton Morrison's Reading and Assembling Contextual and Holistic Mechanisms From Text (REACH) project is developing a computer that reads scientific papers, derives data on biochemical pathways, and plugs it into large-scale, interactive models.

Morrison says the result will be a platform for interactive software that would enable drug developers and perhaps doctors to supply information to help model a specific therapy's interaction with a patient. "They'll be the Microsofts and Googles of biomedicine," Morrison says.

He notes REACH focuses on understanding data through the processes of extraction, assembly, and inference, and the first process went through its paces this summer. UA professor Mihai Surdeanu trained a computer system to read papers by employing hundreds of algorithms, and the system could process 1,000 papers on RAS-related cancers in hours.

Morrison is now embedding context within the system by teaching it species differentiation. "I think that collaborative computers are going to be like children, and we'll have to raise them, in a way," Morrison says. "They'll be as smart as we're able to teach them, and we need them to be able to communicate with us."

From UA News (AZ)
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